CategoryState

No party control flips in Florida state legislative special elections

Two seats in the Florida House of Representatives, District 7 and District 38, were up for special general election on Tuesday. The primary was held on April 9, and the filing deadline was on February 14. A third seat, District 97, was originally scheduled to be on the ballot as well, but the election was canceled after only one candidate filed to run. All three seats were won by members of the same political party as their predecessors.
  • Jason Shoaf (R) defeated Ryan Terrell (D) with 71.3% of the unofficial election night vote for the District 7 seat. Shoaf had previously defeated three other Republican candidates in the primary. Terrell ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. The seat was vacated by Halsey Beshears (R), who resigned in January 2019 to become the Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  • Randy Maggard (R) defeated Kelly Smith (D) with 55.6% of the unofficial election night vote for the District 38 seat. Maggard had previously defeated one other candidate, David McCallister, for the Republican nomination in the primary. Smith ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. The seat was vacated by Daniel Burgess (R), who resigned in January 2019 to become the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • Dan Daley (D) ran unopposed for the District 97 seat and won it automatically. The seat was vacated by Jared Moskowitz (D), who resigned in January 2019 to become the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
As of June, 60 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 23 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Entering the special election, the Florida House of Representatives had 46 Democrats, 71 Republicans, and three vacancies. Florida has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 
Additional reading:


Six Republicans, zero Democrats file in South Carolina special election

The candidate filing deadline passed on June 15 for a special election to fill the vacant District 84 seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives. A primary is scheduled for July 30 and the general election is on October 1. If necessary, a primary runoff has been scheduled for August 13.
 
The seat became vacant after Ronnie Young (R) passed away on May 19. Six Republican candidates filed in the special primary: Cody Anderson, Danny Feagin, Ralph Gunter, Melissa Oremus, Alvin Padgett, and Sean Pumphrey. No other candidates filed in the race.
 
As of June 18, 60 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 23 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Entering the special election, the South Carolina House of Representatives had 44 Democrats, 78 Republicans, and two vacancies. South Carolina has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 


SCOTUS finds Virginia lawmakers lack standing to challenge newly adopted state legislative district plan

On June 17, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its ruling in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, finding that the state House, controlled by Republicans, lacked standing to appeal a lower court order striking down the original legislative district plan as a racial gerrymander. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, with Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penning the majority opinion, joined by Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil Gorsuch. Associate Justice Samuel Alito dissented, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh. As a result of the high court’s ruling, a lower court order implementing a remedial district plan will stand.
 
In 2014, opponents of the state legislative district plan adopted during Virginia’s 2010 redistricting cycle filed suit against the state in federal district court, alleging that 12 legislative districts constituted an illegal racial gerrymander as drawn. The district court rejected this argument, and the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2017, the high court remanded the case to the district court, finding that it had “employed an incorrect legal standard in determining that race did not predominate in 11 of the 12 districts.” In 2018, the district court ruled that these 11 districts had been subject to racial gerrymandering. After the state legislature did not adopt a remedial plan, the district court appointed a special master to draft one. On January 22, 2019, the district court issued an order implementing this remedial plan. Republican lawmakers in the House of Delegates appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but Virginia’s attorney general, Mark Herring (D), declined to join the appeal. This prompted the question of standing on which the high court ruled in today’s opinion.
 
Every state legislative seat in Virginia is up for election this year. The remedial plan implemented by the district court this year applies to the 2019 election cycle. The outcomes of these elections will determine the composition of state government heading into the 2020 redistricting cycle. If Republicans maintain their majorities in both chambers, they will be assured a position of influence during redistricting efforts. If Democrats win both chambers, they will gain trifecta control of state government and, by extension, the redistricting process (the governorship, which is not up for election until 2021, is held by Democrat Ralph Northam).
 


Republican Party selects nominee for special Pennsylvania House race; Democrats to make selection on June 20

A special election for District 85 of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has been called for August 20. The seat became vacant after Fred Keller (R) resigned the seat on May 24. He was elected to Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District in a special election on May 21.
 
Candidates running for special elections in Pennsylvania are selected by their respective political parties. The Republican nominating convention was held on June 12. Seventeen conferees chose David Rowe as the Republican nominee. Three other candidates sought the nomination: Ben Ranck, Darwin Swope, and Clair Moyer. Rowe and Ranck were the only ones the conferees placed up for nomination. Rowe received nine votes and Ranck received eight votes.
 
The Democratic Party is meeting on June 20 to choose the Democratic nominee. The Daily Item identified four Democratic candidates up for consideration. These include Jenn Rager Kay, Adam Rosinski, Bonnie Hamilton, and David Heayn.
 
As of June 14, 60 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 23 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Leading up to the special election, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has 93 Democrats, 109 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 102 seats. Pennsylvania is under divided control and is not a government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 


Two incumbents defeated in Virginia state legislative primaries

Virginia held state legislative primary elections on June 11. All 40 state Senate seats and all 100 state House of Delegates seats are up for general election on November 5, 2019.
 
Local parties could choose to hold conventions rather than primaries to select their nominees, which meant that not all districts held primary elections. According to data from the state department of elections and local political parties, there were 16 party primaries for state Senate seats and 19 primaries for seats in the state House.
 
Incumbents ran in 14 of the 35 primaries. Two incumbents (14 percent) were defeated, while the other 12 advanced to the general election. Of the 40 seats up for election in the Senate, 36 have an incumbent running in November. And 86 of the House’s 100 incumbents will be on the general election ballot.
 
One incumbent loss occurred in Senate District 16, where former Del. Joe Morrissey defeated incumbent Sen. Roz Dance in the Democratic primary. Morrissey resigned from the House in 2015 following his conviction of a misdemeanor stemming from his relationship with a 17-year-old but won election to his old seat in a special election later that year. He ran for the Senate in 2015 against Dance but withdrew prior to the general election citing health concerns.
 
The other incumbent loss occurred in the House District 28 Republican primary. Paul Milde III defeated Del. Robert Thomas Jr. in a rematch from 2017. Milde beat Thomas by 163 votes, while Thomas beat Milde in 2017 by 984 votes.
 
The following information is current as of June 13, 2019. It is compiled from the state department of elections and local political parties. Final candidate lists will be available following the filing deadline on June 24.
 
The 87 House incumbents seeking re-election in 2019 was the lowest number since 2011, when 86 ran for re-election. In 2017, 93 incumbents ran for re-election, and 91 did so in both 2015 and 2013. The 42 House candidates without major party opposition in the general election this year is higher than 2017’s figure of 40 but lower than in 2015 and 2013, when 71 candidates and 56 candidates, respectively, did not face major party opposition.
 
In the Senate races, three incumbents did not seek re-election, which is half as many as retired in 2015, the last year there was a general election for Senate seats. There will be 22 Senate races on the general election ballot where there is only one candidate from a major political party, up from 20 such races in 2015.
 
Heading into the general election, Republicans hold a 21-19 majority in the Senate and a 51-49 majority in the House. This election will take place using new state House district maps that were redrawn following a court order. These new maps changed the boundaries of 25 districts. Under the old maps, Hillary Clinton won 51 districts in 2016 while Donald Trump won 49. Under the new maps, Clinton would have won 56 districts (seven currently held by Republicans) while Trump would have won 44 (none currently held by Democrats).
 
Click the links below for more information on the races.


Republicans seek to hold vacant Florida House seats

Special elections for two seats in the Florida House of Representatives will be held Tuesday. These partisan special elections were called in District 7 and District 38.
 
In District 7, candidates Ryan Terrell (D) and Jason Shoaf (R) face off in the race. The seat became vacant after Halsey Beshears (R) resigned on January 11 to become Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Terrell was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Shoaf defeated three candidates in the Republican primary to advance to the general election.
 
In the race for District 38, Kelly Smith (D) faces Randy Maggard (R). The seat became vacant after Daniel Burgess (R) was appointed as the Executive Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on January 24. Smith was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Maggard defeated David McCallister in the Republican primary to advance to the general election.
 
Both seats were up for election in 2018. Beshears was unopposed in his re-election bid to District 7, and Burgess faced independent candidate David TK Hayes in the District 38 race. Burgess received 44,203 votes (66.3%), while Hayes received 22,451 votes (33.7%).
 
A special election for District 97 was also called in 2019, but the primary and general elections were both canceled because only one candidate, Dan Daley (D), qualified for the ballot. Daley won election to the position outright and will take office in June 2019. The seat became vacant after Jared Moskowitz (D) resigned in January 2019 to become the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
 
Partisan primaries were held on April 9. Candidates were required to file by February 14.
 
As of June, 59 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 23 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Entering the special election, the Florida House of Representatives had 46 Democrats, 71 Republicans, and three vacancies. Florida has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 


Recall effort against Colorado state Rep. Tom Sullivan ends

An effort to recall state Rep. Tom Sullivan (D) from the Colorado House of Representatives ended on June 11. Kristine Brown, the state’s Republican Party vice chair and leader of the recall, said in a Facebook post, “While we are pulling the recall today to focus on other essential efforts, Sullivan does not get a free pass. 2020 is the year to oust him, with the support of voters who now know how extreme he is.”
 
The recall was approved for circulation by the secretary of state’s office on May 13. Supporters had a July 12 deadline to collect 10,035 signatures to force a recall election. According to recall supporters, the effort against Sullivan was due to his support or sponsorship of four specific bills, including legislation designed to temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. That bill, which created Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) in Colorado, passed the House by a 38-25 margin with all votes in favor from Democrats and 23 Republicans joining with 2 Democrats in opposition. It was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis (D) in April.
 
Sullivan’s son was killed in the 2012 shootings at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. He was elected to the state House in 2018, defeating then-incumbent Cole Wist (R) in the general election with 54% of the vote. Wist, who held the seat for three years, co-sponsored an ERPO bill in 2018 and stated on Twitter that he did not support the effort to recall Sullivan.
 
Four other Democratic state lawmakers are being targeted for recall for their support of the legislation designed to give local governments more control over regulating the oil and gas industry. As of today, none of those recalls have been approved for circulation.
 
Since 2011, 80 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 56 did not go to a vote, and six are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019.
 


Virginia legislative primaries to decide nominees for November general elections

Virginia holds legislative primaries for both the state Senate and the House of Delegates on June 11, 2019.
 
Virginia has been under divided government since 2002. Gov. Ralph Northam is a Democrat while Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. If Republicans retain control of the Senate or the state House, Virginia will remain under divided government. If Democrats win both chambers of the legislature, they will have a trifecta and full control of the government during redistricting.
 
Republicans hold a 21-19 majority in the state Senate and a 51-49 majority in the state House. 
 
Fifteen incumbents—nine Democrats and six Republicans—face primary challengers.
According to data from the state Department of Elections and local parties, there will be at least 16 primaries for state Senate seats and at least 19 primaries for seats in the state House.
 
Virginia uses a unique primary system in that local parties can hold party caucuses or nominating conventions in place of primary elections to select their nominees. In a caucus or convention, party members or delegates meet and choose a nominee according to defined rules. Ballotpedia has determined that parties in at least 28 districts in Virginia are selecting their state legislative nominee via convention in 2019.
 
Ballotpedia has identified 12 primaries as battleground races this year—seven seats held by Democrats and five held by Republicans. There are six battleground primaries each in the Senate and House.
 
In all but one race, the incumbent is seeking re-election. 20 incumbents faced at least one primary opponent In the four House of Delegate elections since 2011. Four incumbents lost – meaning 16 incumbents—80%—won their primary. In the two state Senate elections since 2011, five incumbents faced at least primary challenger and four of those, or 80%, won the primary.
 
This election will take place using court-ordered state House district maps redrawn by a special master earlier this year, which changed the boundaries of 25 districts. Under the old maps, Hillary Clinton won 51 districts in 2016 while Donald Trump won 49. Under the new maps, Clinton would have won 56 districts (7 currently held by Republicans) while Trump would have won 44 (none currently held by Democrats).
 
Additional reading:


Louisiana voters will decide a constitutional amendment concerning the state’s board of tax appeals in October 2019

The Louisiana State Legislature gave final approval to a constitutional amendment on Monday that would allow the legislature to expand the authority of the Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals. The amendment will be on the state’s October 2019 election ballot.
 
Rep. Stephen Dwight (R-35) introduced the constitutional amendment as House Bill 428 (HB 428). After the House approved the amendment, the Louisiana State Senate amended it and passed it on June 1, 2019, with 35 senators supporting it, two opposing it, and two absent. The House unanimously concurred with the Senate’s changes on June 3, 2019, certifying it for the ballot.
 
The amendment would require “complete and adequate remedy for the prompt recovery” of any unconstitutional tax paid and to allow the legislature through a two-thirds vote to give the Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals jurisdiction over the constitutionality of taxes, fees, and related matters.
 
The Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals consists of three attorneys appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The board has jurisdiction over tax and fee disputes. Prior to 2014, the board adjudicated claims brought only against the state department of revenue. A 2014 bill extended the board’s jurisdiction to local sales tax disputes.
 
From 1995 through 2018, Louisiana voters decided 185 constitutional amendments. An average of five measures appeared on odd-year statewide ballots, with a range from zero to 16. Voters approved 75 percent (139 of 185) and rejected 25 percent (46 of 185) of the constitutional amendments.


Maine House special election on June 11 to fill Denno vacancy

A special election is on the June 11 ballot for District 45 of the Maine House of Representatives. Stephen Moriarty (D) and Kevin Hughes (R) are running in the general election. Moriarty recently retired as an attorney, and he served one term in the state House from 2012 to 2014. Hughes runs a family-owned embroidery and screen printing business.
 
The seat became vacant when Dale Denno (D) resigned on March 27 for health reasons. Denno had served in the state House since 2016. He won re-election in 2018 with 65% of the vote in the general election.
 
As of June, 59 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 23 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Heading into the election, Democrats have an 88-56 majority in the state House with one vacancy. There are six independent members in the chamber. Maine has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
 


Bitnami